Syko Friend

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Problem Child (2015), 6/10
Fontanelle (2020), 7/10
Stars Fight Many (2021), 5/10
The Code (2022), 6.5/10

Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter Sophie Weil (disguised as Bitch Lady Twat) started out in a punk band called Tips For Twat that recorded the raw dirges of Squeeze My Pad (2010) in the vein of the no-wave of the late 1970s (notably the bluesy seven-minute bacchanal We're Going Down to Cuba), and then went solo adopting the moniker Syko Friend for demos like the eight-song cassette Shai & Inbrist (2012).

Problem Child (Mind Rider, 2015) is a collection of psychedelic litanies for voice and distorted guitar. Guitar noise accents the six minutes of Problem Child. The more spaced-out and shamanic Big Talk could have been on David Crosby's first album. The nine-minute Calamity highlights her guitar playing, in a dissonant and volcanic post-blues style that can turn "grunge-y" with little or no warning.

Angel's Ride (2017) contains two lengthy such psychedelic compositions. After a few minutes of accordion drones, she speaks, howls, sings and half-sings in Cherry Eyes (11:40) over a bed of distorted guitar tones. Rachel (11:53) is a gentle folk lullaby that displays actual vocal skills and progressively loses control in a swamp of muddy noise.

Fontanelle (Post Present Medium, 2020) feels like an extension of that mini-album. Her whispering and crooning in the nine-minute Liberty flows over anemic oscillating guitar noise to create a sense of mystery and doom. She has mastered her instrument better than her voice: witness how guitar overtones create the soundscape of the seven-minute Earth Kit. The abstract disjointed dirge Earth Spit harks back to the Charalambides or Roy Montgomery. The stately absurdity of the nine-minute Peel feels like a remix of a Buddhist ceremony made by someone like Azalia Snail. She takes her time before beginning her surreal recitation over the somnolent repetitive guitar distortion of the nine-minute Ancient Dog. In an impressive case of musical split personality, Kitten Coop and Window are the exact opposite: two simple folk-ish tunes for voice and acoustic guitar.

She also formed the trio Pink Trash Can (with Robbie Cody on guitar and Evan Burrows on percussion and keyboads), a project that debuted with What are they Saying is the PTC? (2021), a collection of jazzy psychedelic tunes and instrumentals.

Stars Fight Many (Unifactor, 2021) feels like a poorly recorded collage of random audio fragments, sometimes indulging in tape hiss and distortion, including covers of Bob Dylan's Iíll Keep it with Mine and Tim Harden's Reason to Believe. The haunting Don't You Find Me Honey? stands out.

The Code (Post Present Medium, 2022) came as a surprise, presenting a completely different persona, a starkly meditative folk singer devoted to simple and catchy folk lullabies for voice and guitar, and at the same time a guitarist in the tradition of John Fahey. Her slow and solemn fingerpicking is disturbed only by a tiny bit of electronic noise and reverbed vocals. Immaculate singing and fingerpicking sculpt Balloon. Tense guitar noise only appears at the very end of Pluto. The hypnotic and whispered Rubberband, the bluesy Blonde and even the upbeat Bell (with herself on backing vocals) seem to come from a distant utopia. The stately Black Cow sits halfway between Donovan and Joni Mitchell. The one moment of psychedelic trance comes in Star's Fight Many, where she sings as if stoned over distorted guitar and metallic noise.

(Copyright © 2023 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )